Liberty may split international businesses

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries

Cable giant Liberty Global is considering separating its European and Latin American businesses.

Attending the The World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said the international cable operator’s European business is experiencing strong growth.

But low broadband penetration in Latin America meant that, while there remained an opportunity in the region, it could make sense for Liberty to separate that part of its business.

Liberty has already shed key assets in Australia and Asia, Austar and J:Com respectively, which Fries said has recouped the company US$6billion. In an interview with CNBC, the Liberty boss admitted he was more bullish than other business leaders on the growth opportunities in Europe.

Explaining the focus on the continent, Fries told the news channel that 90% of Liberty’s business is generated in Europe today compared with 50% two years ago. He added that 70% of company revenues are generated from four key markets: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Ireland is Liberty’s single fastest growing market, he added.

Fries went on to address how the company’s next-generation Horizon settop will address fundamental issues faced by the cable industry.

Having noted that Europe’s cablers have large customer bases, the best content and big pipes through which to deliver services, Fries said: “There are three things we don’t do well. We don’t allow you to take your television [content] to other devices, we don’t bring web apps and internet TV to the television and we don’t have a great user experience, a great user interface.”

The Horizon service, developed with Samsung and Intel, will solve those issues, he claimed.

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